June 17, 2008 4:10am
I’m trying to calm down. So far, it’s not working. It’s 4am and I can’t stop shaking. I’m such a wreck that my teeth have actually started chattering. It’s like post-traumatic stress or something. Good thing I don’t have to work until the afternoon shift. Maybe after Steve leaves for work in a few hours I can sort things out and then maybe even get some sleep. Maybe I don’t have to work today after all? I should go and look at the calendar. I’m just all over the place right now. I hope Steve doesn’t notice.
Who am I kidding? Steve doesn’t notice anything. I could come home wearing a dancing tabby cat on my head and he wouldn’t even ask if I’d done something different to my hair.
I think I’m almost kind of sleepy. Maybe I should go to bed. Sleep would help, right? Everyone always says that things will make more sense “in the morning.” Of course, it’s almost morning now… Oh shit. Now I’m just rambling. I need to stop thinking about this.
Put the pen DOWN, Tara… okay, I’m putting the pen down, I’m going to lock up this journal, and then I’m going to bed, and when I wake up, everything will be different. There’s no place like home, there’s no place like home, there’s no place like…
June 17, 2008 10:52am
I did go to sleep. I don’t even remember Steve leaving for work. It turns out that I do have to work, and I only have a few hours until I have to go, but now that I’m awake again, I’m just as confused as ever.
I couldn’t sleep… again. Steve had been in bed snoring away for hours and I ended up in the living room watching that stupid TV. I flipped channels for a while, and then I came across “Real Hollywood Story”. It was about Idol Hands.
I had to watch, I mean, how could I NOT watch? It was the weirdest thing – so surreal. My eyes were glued to the screen the whole time. It brought back so many memories. Things I haven’t thought of in YEARS.
So I’m watching, and I’m feeling all nostalgic, and a little sad, and then it just happens. I had to use the DVR to rewind because I couldn’t believe what I’d heard.
Aidan said he still loves me.
It was all so long ago. It feels like another lifetime. It can’t POSSIBLY have been me, can it? How does someone go from being the girlfriend of a member of one of the biggest boy bands ever, to living in a rat hole apartment with a husband so STUPID that he buys a TV instead of a house?
I must be delusional again. Maybe exhaustion is causing me to hallucinate? I know it’s not, though: I watched that same damned 30 seconds on the DVR about 50 times already. It really did happen, and he really did say it.
Memories are just… my whole mind is jumbled up right now.
I still remember the first time I heard them sing: it was on “Red Hot Music,” and it was part of “Mel’s Pick”, where she always showed a video by a new band, or someone making a comeback, or something like that – something that she wanted to highlight for whatever reason. I just remember thinking that it was the BEST song I’d ever heard. I didn’t even think about what they looked like. It was kind of hard to tell in that video anyway. Kind of strange, now that I think about it.
As soon as the show was over, I wanted to hear the song again, but no one was playing it. I went out a couple of days later to look for the album. No one at the record store had ANY idea who I was talking about. I finally found it, though. I listened to it non-stop for weeks, until I almost wore out the cassette (yes, I really AM that old…) I started seeing tiny pictures and miniscule articles about them in the teenybopper magazines, but it was nothing like later on. Maybe more people had heard about them in the US at that point, but in my little city, they weren’t even a blip on the pop culture radar. I swear I must have been the only one who saw the video on TV that day.
Finally, a few months later I started hearing them once in a while on the radio, but they still weren’t all that popular. And then it happened. CKWY had a contest to meet them.
I never win anything, and I have never won another radio contest since then, and I probably never will again, but that one I did win. I sat with the telephone and redialed my heart out until I heard that voice on the other end asking my name. It was just meant to be, I think. I had to win it; nothing in my life was ever the same after that.
Since I was a minor, my mom had to go with me, but she just stayed out of the way, talking to some of the other moms that were there. I think they were all commiserating about their daughters’ obsession. She had no interest in a bunch of teenage guys, and was never exactly the type to indulge my teenage fixations. She wasn’t exactly thrilled to be taking me there in the first place, but I’d threatened to paint my bedroom black and start listening to death metal. That was enough to sway her into thinking that a few hours of her time was worth it.
We were supposed to have dinner together, while they were in Toronto doing promotion. That’s how you know that they hadn’t gotten as big yet. Can you imagine that ever happening later? In the later “meet and greet” sessions the fans were lucky to get 30 seconds or a minute with them. Maybe an autograph, and, if they were really lucky, a picture and a hug.
I spent close to two hours in a private room at that restaurant, just me and them. Well, and their managers… and my mom… Okay, actually there were four other girls and THEIR moms there, too, but honestly, in my memory they weren’t even there. Ha! We hit it off right away, even with those other girls there. They were all fawning and gooey. It kind of made me sick to my stomach. I think at least one of them had never even heard one of their songs. She kept saying stupid things, and I could see them snickering at each other and making funny faces behind her back every time she spoke.
I guess maybe because they hadn’t become super-famous yet, it just felt like a group of friends having dinner – five guys and five girls. They still seemed so NORMAL. They were touring around, being interviewed, doing small concerts in little venues, and just having fun. In their minds, that was as good as it got. They had no idea what their lives were about to become.
I wish I could remember what kind of things we talked about, but I can’t anymore. It must have been typical teenage kind of stuff: movies, music, that kind of thing. I remember Aidan asking if I had a boyfriend, but it was just kind of in passing. Maybe all of the girls got asked that at some point. I kind of thought he was just making fun of me, so I blushed and let it go, but now I really wish that I could remember every word spoken, every look, every detail of that night. Shouldn’t it be a prerequisite to remember everything that happens on a night that changes your life forever?
We sat there for a couple of hours, but then their managers told them they had to go. They had another appearance to go to. They apologized to me – okay, to all five of the girls there – and said they wished they could stay. When I left the restaurant I felt like I was floating on air. My mom kept trying to talk to me, and had to repeat herself over and over again, because I just didn’t hear a word she said.
When we got home, though, I crashed back down to earth: I was never going to talk to them again. Even though part of me wanted to just keep reliving the whole night in my mind, I knew that the next day I had to get up, go to school, listen to my teachers (or at least pretend to), deal with homework, and listen to my friends talk about things that now seemed completely unimportant. In short: it sucked.
How I managed to get through the next few days I have no idea. I was bored out of my skull. I wasn’t hearing Mr. Renwick talking about the history of the FLQ crisis in Quebec, I was thinking of the joke that Sean told, or when Andy started serenading me at the table. How could I concentrate on French vocabulary tests when I could be picturing everything that they ate and drank? And more and more I found myself dreaming about Aidan.
The really weird thing was that even after I started listening to their music, I didn’t really think about their looks. I know that sounds really cheesy, and every girl probably says that, but it was true. I mean, I didn’t think of them as “Oh, he’s SO gorgeous! I should listen to their music.” I knew they weren’t repulsive or anything, but it wasn’t what drew me to them in the first place.
So it wasn’t until after that night that I really started thinking about them – specifically Aidan – THAT way. I was getting really depressed, though, because I was having these feelings all of a sudden, and they were for someone I knew I was never going to see again, and who I thought would never think of me the way that I thought of him. I was sure that I had left his mind the moment he left the restaurant.
Or at least that was what I thought… (*insert suspenseful music here* LOL)
About a week after our dinner “date”, I was sitting and watching TV at night. My mom was hounding me about my homework; I was ignoring her. The phone rang and I didn’t even bother to go and get it. I was being a typical sulky teenager, I guess, magnified by my current woes about Aidan. Mom called downstairs to tell me that it was for me. “Tell whoever it is that I’ll call them back!” I yelled up.
“I think you’ll want to take this,” she yelled back. Looking back, I’m surprised that she didn’t tell him that I wasn’t home and hang up. I bet later she wished that she had.
“Mom, I don’t want to talk to anyone tonight!” I told her.
“I really think you should take it,” she said.
“Fine!” I rolled my eyes, but I went over and grabbed the downstairs extension. “I’ve got it,” I told my mom. I heard the click, and then I waited.
“Tara?” a voice on the other end asked. I started to shake a little bit. I knew that voice right away: it had been in every one of my dreams for a week now.
“Yes?” I said. I was afraid to say the name of the voice, in case I was wrong.
“It’s Aidan…” there was a pause… “Aidan Forrest.” As if there could honestly be any doubt in my mind. My palms were sweating so badly that I could barely hold the phone. My heart started racing, and I slid my back down the wall, ending up sitting on the floor beside the phone, just in case I actually passed out.
“Aidan… hi!” I said, trying NOT to sound like I was about to faint, and hoping that I hadn’t lost the ability to speak. My voice came out in a squeak, though. “How did you get my number?”
“I had my manager get it from the radio station… I hope that’s okay,” he suddenly sounded very embarrassed and shy. I was DYING!
“Of course it’s okay,” I told him hurriedly. The last thing I wanted was for him to think I was upset at him for calling. “I’m glad you called.”
There was another pause. “I had a really good time with you at dinner the other night,” he told me. I told him that I had, too.
I was twisting my finger in the phone cord, trying not to jump out of my own skin. My stomach was twisting into knots. Suddenly all I could think of was that I wasn’t wearing any make up and I had my glasses on instead of my contact lenses, and I was sitting there in boxer shorts and a tank top. Then I started thinking how stupid that was, because I was on the phone and he couldn’t see me anyway, and then I remembered that I was actually ON the phone and was probably missing something that Aidan was saying. I quickly realized that I had, in fact, missed something, and even though I was completely embarrassed, I had to ask him to repeat himself.
“Uh…” he sounded embarrassed now. “I guess I was just wondering if you’d mind if I called you sometimes… you know, when I can… I mean, this is weird I know, but we’re on this publicity tour for a while yet, so I can’t exactly come and see you… but I just want to get to know you a little better… you know… if it’s okay…”
“IF IT’S OKAY? OF COURSE IT’S OKAY!” I wanted to scream, but of course I didn’t do that. I told him that I’d like it if he called again. It was one of the most awkward conversations that I’ve ever had in my life. We were both so shy about it that I’m surprised we managed to say anything at all. That night, though, we managed to talk for about an hour, until he had to go, but he gave me a time the next day that he should be able to call again.
For the next month, he called as often as he could. Not always every day, but he tried. Sometimes it was only for five minutes, but sometimes we talked for an hour, sometimes longer, depending on what their schedule was like. And every time we finished a call, he’d tell me when he thought he might be able to call the next time. Their lives were already so structured that he knew down to the minute where he was going to be.
Then they released “Tough Girl” and everything just EXPLODED. Suddenly everyone knew who they were, and their pictures were in half of the female lockers in my high school. Guys were always putting them down, and making comments about how they wanted to beat them up. So mature. I knew they were idiots, but I still hated hearing it, especially since all I could really do was ignore them. Some girls knew that I had met them, and were constantly trying to pump me for information, but I kept pretty much everything but the basics to myself. I acted like I hadn’t really had much of a chance to talk to them.
Aidan was really embarrassed by it, but he had been upfront with me right in that first conversation: his managers didn’t want me to talk about our phone calls with my friends or anyone else. He kept saying that he was sorry, but it was all about image. All about making it seem like the girls who were screaming for them could actually BE their girlfriends. He didn’t say specifically at first that I was his girlfriend – it was a difficult thing, when we could never see each other in person – but after a while we both just knew it. He told me that no matter how many screaming girls there were, it was only me that he cared about. He would’ve killed me for telling anyone he said this, but I remember him saying, “They can scream and cry all they want, but it’s you that I go to bed dreaming about.”
It was hard, but I believed him. As time went on, we got really close, and it became easier for us to talk about how we really felt about each other. It seems impossible to believe, but after meeting in person only once, and just talking on the phone, we were already falling in love. It may have been a teenage kind of love, but it was still love. No one will ever convince me otherwise.
He told me that as soon as he got a few days off he wanted to come and see me again, or he’d fly me to see him. It seemed like that was never going to happen, though. I couldn’t imagine my mom ever letting me fly off to hang out with a rock star, and I couldn’t see him hanging out at my house, either.
Idol Hands announced a big concert tour after that. The tiny clubs they had been performing in were selling out really quickly, and security was finding it harder and harder to keep them – and the crowds of girls – safe in such small venues. Some of the smaller dates were moved to larger venues, partly so that they could sell more tickets, and partly for safety.
The tour was initially scheduled to be three months long, but they’d been told that if it was still going well it would probably go longer. A LOT longer. They couldn’t possibly have known just HOW long it would be, though. The whirlwind was starting, and all they could do was ride it out.
The great thing was that they were scheduled to play in Toronto just a few weeks into the tour. They were going into rehearsals for a month, because they were putting together a completely different show more suited to the arenas and stadiums, but then the tour would start. There would even be a couple of days off after the Toronto show before they had to be in Philadelphia for the next stop. We were going to be able to see each other, finally.
It was really weird, feeling like I was in a relationship with someone I hadn’t seen in months, and in fact, someone I’d met in person only once. I was going crazy to see him again, and at the same time, I was terrified to see him, and find out that I was imagining things, and that he really just wanted to be friends, and liked talking to me on the phone. Maybe he just wanted someone to hang out with between shows?
The time dragged on and on and on. By the time the tour started, I was about to explode. I wasn’t paying attention at all in school, and all I could think about was those few days that were coming up way too quickly, and far too slowly all at the same time. I was a nervous wreck. I used to have a habit of chewing on the skin around my fingers when I got stressed or nervous (gross, I know) and my fingers were constantly bleeding from it. I had to bandage them up to keep myself from doing it.
Finally, the day of the concert came. He sent me a ticket and told me that he’d send someone out to get me after, rather than sending a pass. The show was AMAZING. I couldn’t believe how far they’d come in such a short time. The screams in the arena were absolutely deafening. Watching them perform, I was so proud of him. It felt weird watching them by myself. I felt like I stood out like a sore thumb, surrounded by groups of girls. I wanted to be able to turn to everyone around me and say, “See Aidan up there? That’s my boyfriend!” but of course I couldn’t.
Just before the last encore, a woman came out, tapped me on the shoulder and asked if I was Tara. I said yes, and she motioned for me to come along with her. The girls around me were so enraptured with what was happening on the stage that they didn’t even notice. I followed her out of the audience, into the halls. She quietly handed me a backstage pass and told me to put it on. It said STAFF on it.
Even though the show wasn’t over yet, there were already girls standing at the entrance to the backstage area, yelling and shoving and trying to get the guards to let them through. I don’t know what they thought would happen if they DID get through. In all of their hysteria, they probably hadn’t even thought of that part. The woman confidently made her way through the crowd as security loudly said to let us through. I didn’t want it to be obvious how nervous I was, so I tried really hard not to look anyone in the eye at all, and just look forward. Someone grabbed at me and tried to pull me backwards by my hair, but the security guard took care of it pretty quickly, and I ducked through the doors.
When we got through the entrance, I took a deep breath. I was so nervous I thought I was going to be sick; my head sort of hurt from where that girl had pulled my hair; I was dizzy from being so crowded in. There were people EVERYWHERE (although it was nowhere near as crazy as out in that hallway), but she took me into a room by myself. At first I thought I wouldn’t be there long, so it wasn’t that big of a deal, but then time really started dragging on. There was a television, but it was on the news, and I couldn’t figure out how to change the channel. I waited, and waited and waited. There were some couches, and the later it got, the sleepier I started to get, and eventually I fell asleep.
I woke up to someone’s hand brushing my hair off my face. It took me a few seconds to realize that I wasn’t dreaming, and I smiled when I finally saw him there beside me. “What time is it?” I asked.
“It’s 2am,” he told me. “I’m really sorry. There was just a whole bunch of stuff going on after the show. I tried to get word to you, but by the time Louisa got back here you were already asleep, so she decided to just let you rest.”
I sat up, hoping my make up wasn’t completely smudged off my face, and tried to smooth out what I assumed was my messed-up hair with my hand. I suddenly felt incredibly self-conscious. He sat down beside me. “I can’t believe you’re actually here,” he said shyly.
“I can’t either,” I replied. “I didn’t think today was ever going to come.” Just seeing him there, my heart felt like it was swelling right out of my chest and I thought I would start to cry.
Before I could, though, he leaned in and kissed me. Months of pent-up feelings and teenage hormonal frustrations came out in that kiss. I don’t even know how long we were there. I just remember a knock at the door, and realizing that his hand was under my shirt, and I didn’t care. I was just annoyed at the damn knocking. I wanted to stay there on that couch with him forever.
When the knocking didn’t stop, Aidan pulled away from me reluctantly and went to answer the door. I wasn’t sure what I should do, whether to try and hide or something, but after he looked out he opened the door up and a big, muscle-bound man walked in. I recognized him as one of the bodyguards I’d seen in photos and videos in the past few months. Even their security guards were getting famous. They’d had some security with them when we met, but nothing big. Things had changed a lot since then.
“The cars are ready,” he said to Aidan, ignoring me completely. “Andy, Sean and Aaron are gone. You’re next, and then Sam will go last.”
“We’re all going in separate cars, just to try and throw people off the track,” Aidan explained. “A couple of the guys are going home for the time off, and Andy’s going on ahead to Montreal. I’m coming with you, of course,” he said, grinning at me. I could feel myself blushing.
Getting out of there was just plain crazy, but
SHIT! I’m late for work!